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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Monday 9 February 2009

A Thought for Australia

by Suzan Abrams
I will have another blog post for later in the day.
I mourn for the city of Melbourne in Australia, currently wounded by the current bushfire disaster. Its bandages are hard and heavy and still soaking with blood.
Melbourne was my first real home away from home. I stayed in the grand old city - so like England in its ways - for five years. Here I was introduced to eternal favourites made up of British soaps and dramas like Heartbeat and The Bill. When I worked as a magazine journalist in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, my first international fashion assignment was to Sydney and I lived for a week on Darling Harbour. This was followed by several other trips elsewhere.
When I gave up full-time journalism to travel and to write as I pleased, my renewed destination was intially to friends on a farm in Rutherglen, Victoria State, Australia. You had to board an early morning or late evening train from Spencer Street Station in downtown Melbourne, and after a four hour ride disembark at Chiltern, a charming quaint town. I woke up in a little cottage in the thick of winter one June, surrounded by sheep and cows, all early risers, breakfasting on the bright green grass. The cows were territorial and stared menacingly at me. The farm-owner had strong business dealings with the nearby wineries.
These towns were not affected by the bushfires.
The Victorian countryside is similar to England and no less beautiful. On the way up to Belfast from Dublin, the passing farmlands in Northern Ireland still remind me of Australia. I didn't much care for the farm and moved to the city of Melbourne. Soon after, I rented an apartment in North Coburg. A 10 minute tram ride took me directly into the central business district on Elizabeth Street. I much preferred the fast lane, with all of its flamboyance and colour. I began once more to travel to Africa and thereabouts with Melbourne as a steady base.
This morning on reading the updated versions of the bushfires, I think about my old life and it finally dawns on me; the harsh mourning of its slightly scarred, burnt face.